If you are eligible and would like to host short-term stays, you'll need to register and become a certified host with the Office of Short-Term Rentals.
San Francisco residents may host short-term rentals in the same eligible home (residential unit) where they also live as a permanent resident (e.g. present at least 275 nights per year). If a property features multiple residential units, then you may only host short-term rentals in the same residential unit where you also live as a permanent resident. This is a core requirement of the City's short-term rental rules, which are intended to preserve long-term housing availability/opportunities and neighborhood character. Please take a moment to review the list of ineligible properties further below.
Step 1 of 2: Register as a business
Obtain a Business Registration Certificate from the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector. Visit The San Francisco Business Portal to learn more about applying for a Business Registration Certificate online.
If you already have a business registration for a separate type of business you operate in San Francisco, then update your account with the SF Treasurer and add a "new business location" for Accommodations at the physical address of the residential unit. You can still add a second location even if it is the same location as your current business location.
Note: This step must be finalized before you can register as a certified host with our office.
Step 2 of 2: Register to become a certified host
Obtain a host certificate (valid for 2 years) from the Office of Short-Term Rentals. You may only offer (list/advertise) short-term-rentals after you have received this certificate (or, if you have an application pending with the Office), and your certificate number must be posted on all listings advertising your short-term rental. Review the eligibility requirements below. Please do not apply if you do not reside full-time at the individual dwelling unit (apartment/suite/home) as a permanent resident (please see the "Am I Eligible" Section further below).
Click here to visit the SF Business Portal and register online. Choose the option that says: "Step 4: Apply with OSTR (Office of Short-Term Rentals)." You can also download the application and make an appointment to register in-person with the Office of Short-Term Rentals. Please note that staff can arrange for assistance in different languages, if needed. In-person appointments do not result in a faster review.
Please note that effective October 1, 2019, the short-term rental application fee (new or renewals) will increase from $250 to $450. The application fee is valid for two-years from when the short-term rental application is approved. The application fee increase is based on a provision of the City’s short-term rental law (Section 41A.5(g)(3)(B) of the San Francisco Administrative Code). This provision requires that the fee be modified periodically to reflect the operating costs for administering the City’s short-term rental program and is based on studies by the City’s Office of the Controller. The administration of the City’s short-term rental program is funded primarily by application fees and enforcement penalties; and does not include funding from hotel taxes (also known as transient occupancy taxes). For those hosts with active short-term rental certificates that are set to expire soon, please note that renewal applications and the renewal fee are only accepted for certificates set to expire within less than 30 days.
Short-term rentals in residences are only legal if you are registered with the San Francisco Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector and have also received a certificate from the Office of Short-Term-Rentals.
If you are not certified and you advertise/rent a dwelling unit for periods of less than 30 nights, you are violating the City's short-term rental laws, and are subject to possible enforcement action, including substantial penalties.
You may host short-term rentals if you have a complete application pending review with our Office; currently reside in the dwelling unit; and there are also no City complaints pending against the entire property. Please note that our Office cannot require hosting platforms to operate a listing while an application is pending (but please contact us if you run into this issue - as we can typically get hosts re-listed in a few days). Also, please note that if you are a renter, our Office cannot require the property owner to allow your short-term rental activity in the event that private leases, or other private agreements prohibit such activity. If the application is ultimately denied, then the host would need to cease short-term rentals.
Frequently Asked Question: Did the primary law on short-term rentals change?
Yes. Prior to 2015, all short-term residential rentals (stays of less than 30 days) were illegal in San Francisco (per the City's Planning Code). This included rentals for the entire home, or just a portion (e.g. private room listings). Beginning in February 2015, hosts were eligible to register, with the Office of Short-Term Rentals, in order to host limited short-term rentals; and only in eligible homes where the host also lives at least 275 nights per year.
Violations of the City’s short-term rental laws are subject to penalties of at least $484 per day for each dwelling unit in violation. These daily penalties begin on the day that a Notice of Violation is issued by the Office of Short-Term Rentals, and continue to accrue until the violation is fully abated. Repeat violations may be subject to escalated penalties and referral to the City’s Attorney’s Office for additional civil and/or criminal penalties.
The San Francisco Property Information Map (under the "Planning Apps" tab) shows whether a short-term rental registry application has been approved for a property. No other identifying information from your application is posted online or provided to the public.
In order to start hosting short-term residential rentals in your home you must meet all of the following conditions:
1. Be the permanent resident
You must live in the actual dwelling unit (e.g. apartment, suite, condominium) that you wish to offer as a short-term rental for at least 275 nights of any given calendar year, as either an owner or a tenant. If your property features multiple dwelling units, you may not live in one dwelling unit, while operating short-term rentals in a different dwelling unit.
Certain types of properties are never eligible for short-term rental. Please contact us at email@example.com if you are not sure how your property is classified.
Rules for Residential Hotels
Rules for Tourist Hotels or Timeshares
Rules for Live/Work Units or Artist Live-Work Units.
Many private agreements such as leases, homeowner’s association bylaws, and Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs) prohibit subletting (or use of your dwelling unit as a short-term rental). While the City does not enforce these types of private agreements, the Office of Short-Term Rentals strongly recommends that you review such agreements before submitting an application.
If you are a resident (whether a co-owner or tenant) of a tenancy-in-common (TIC) building, or are a co-owner of your dwelling unit, we will send a notice of your application to all co-owners of the building.
If you are a renter (tenant), in any type of property, we will send a courtesy notice to the owner(s) of your unit to inform them of your application. You may also need to provide a copy of your lease to staff.
If you are a renter and your dwelling unit is also subject to rent control rules, you may not make more than your monthly rent from short-term rental fees charged in the same month to guests.
To see if a property (home, condominium or apartment) is already registered to host short-term rentals,visit the City's Property Information Map, search for the address of the property, and click on the 'Planning Apps' tab. A Short-Term Rental Certificate will be listed (at the bottom of the Planning Apps screen) if one is currently active on the property.
Please note that pending or denied applications are not displayed on the Property Information Map.
Frequently Asked Question Item: Approximately 16% of registered short-term rental hosts identified themselves as a renter on their short-term rental application. However, it appears a number of those applicants that indicated they were renting the unit, appear to share the same surname as the property owner.
For properties located in RH-1(D) zoning districts, neighborhood notification is required. This means that if you live in one of these districts, after you submit a complete application we will send a courtesy notice, with your name and address, to all property owners and residential tenants who live within 300 feet of your unit (and nearby neighborhood groups registered with the Planning Department). They will have 45 days to submit comments to us. Neighborhood input will only affect your application if someone submits sufficient evidence that you, or your unit is not eligible to host short-term rentals.
You can check to see if you live in an RH-1(D) district on the Property Information Map. Search for your address, and then choose the Zoning tab on the right to see your zoning district.
Many private agreements such as homeowner’s association (HOA) bylaws, and Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs) prohibit subletting or use of your dwelling unit as a short-term rental. While the City does not enforce these types of private agreements, the Office of Short-Term Rentals (OSTR) strongly recommends that you review such agreements before submitting an application.
Please note that OSTR staff cannot deny an application in an RH-1D zoning district on the basis of HOA rules, generalized parking concerns, or proximity to schools. The core requirements for eligibility are the same throughout the City.
2. Have property liability insurance
You must have property liability insurance in the amount of no less than $500,000, or provide proof that property liability coverage in an equal or higher amount is being provided by any and all hosting platforms through which you will rent your unit. Proof of liability insurance is not required if hosting activity is only handed by a platform (website) that already extends similar liability coverage.
3. Resolve any code violations
Ensure that your dwelling unit remains compliant with all Building, Housing, Planning, and other City codes. If your dwelling unit (apartment/suite) is located within an apartment building or tenancy-in-common (TIC) building, then the entire property (including other dwelling units) must be compliant and not subject to Code Enforcement.
4. Observe Group Housing limits
The City's short-term rental program is not intended to serve as a vehicle to operate a home as a de facto tourist hostel and in a manner that is not generally associated with primary residential use and character. So for example, if the host is present overnight throughout the year in the residential unit, they may not host more than five (5) simultaneous distinct renters (whether long-term or short-term) in the same residential unit. For the purpose of this example, a couple sharing a bedroom and a single reservation would count as one distinct renter toward the limit.
Once you have received a Short-Term Residential Rental Registration Number you may:
What you may never do with your registered dwelling unit:
If your application for a certificate is rejected, suspended, or if a previously-issued certificate has been revoked by the Office of Short-Term Rentals, you may file a written appeal within thirty calendar days from the date of the notice of rejection, suspension, or revocation. Hosts must cancel any pending reservations (for stays of less than 30 days) and remove any online listings (offering stays of less than 30 days), if an application is denied (even if an appeal is filed), or if a certificate is suspended or revoked (even if an appeal is filed). For further information, please review these procedures.